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Beijing on Fast Track to Solve Traffic Woes
Beijing is mobilizing think tanks around the country to solve traffic congestion in the capital ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

A total of 19 leading transport experts from around the country gathered in Beijing last week to discuss the city's traffic problems at the invitation of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

They gave a final evaluation of the Beijing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Project, which they hope will relieve the snarl-ups that have blighted the capital for years.

The project - approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology as a key scientific research item during the country's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) - will be carried out later this year, combining the efforts of leading scientists nationwide.

Foreign experts will also be involved in the project, bringing expertise honed during previous Olympics in Sydney and Atlanta, according to the ministry.

The central government allocated 560 million yuan (US$68 million) for national ITS research, and Beijing was a pilot city in the project.

The city also plans to pour 55 million yuan (US$6.7 million) to carry out research in partnership with the central government.

The project looks at intelligent traffic control systems, parking systems, public transportation systems and information service networks for passengers. It is expected to greatly improve the capital's traffic management.

Secretary-General Shi Dinghuan of the ministry encouraged experts to maximize the value of the project by taking the "tremendous" traffic pressures that are anticipated during the Olympiad in 2008 into full account.

Shi also called on experts to raise more "practical" suggestions for the renovation and development of Beijing's traffic network.

Beijing has invested vast human and financial resources to tackle its congestion problems by building three ring roads around the city but traffic jams remain a big headache.

More than 8 million bicycles across the city also bring unique difficulties to traffic management, transport officials said.

(China Daily July 2, 2002)

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